Stop Creating in a Vacuum: A Burner’s Crash Course on Digital Self Promotion

Hello, you go-getting Burners! Let me introduce myself: my name is Deets, and I’m the Content Manager for Burning Man Project. Part of my role includes spending time in different digital spaces, where I inevitably find myself admiring your myriad creations and projects. It’s inspiring to see so many of you out in your community creating events, fundraisers, art, podcasts, and more. We are dreamers, we are doers, and we love it. 

Yet, while we’re undeniably talented and incredibly self-motivated, I’ve noticed that there’s one thing our community could use a little help with: promoting ourselves. I know, I know — it’s not the sexiest or most exciting topic, but it’s an important one for anyone with something to share. Why? Because without promotion, you’re creating in a vacuum; people can’t show up for you if they don’t know where, when, or how. 

So this post is for any Burners out there who could use a crash course in digital self promotion — consider it a gift from all of us over here on the Communications team. You know, the kind of gift you didn’t ask for, but come to appreciate over time. Like a fresh pair of shoelaces, or a fancy, grown-up pen.

And with that said, let’s get into it! *pushes glasses up nose

You may be wondering: Can Burning Man Project’s Communications team help get the word out about your project? 

Well, lucky you — we’re starting something new for 2022! Every four to six weeks we’ll create a single community roundup post, called The Bullhorn, to offer a place for the Burning Man community to showcase their events, projects and other content on our Facebook page. We’ll kick it off each time with a few things we’ve heard around the burn barrel, but it’s up to you to make sure you add your own projects to the comments. It’s not only a great way for you to share your own creations, but also to find out what your fellow Burners are up to. Hooray! 

Image of: Billion Bunny March, 2019 (Photo by Scott London), Sunset in Black Rock City, 2019 (Photo by Leori Gill), On Stage at the Falzone Family Circus, 2019 (Photo by Susan C. Becker), Watching the Sunset from Camp, 2019 (Photo by Bill Klemens) | (Graphic design by Deets Shay)

But here’s the thing: this is just one piece of the puzzle. If you want to reach as many people as possible, we encourage you to promote on your own. So in the spirit of Radical Self-reliance, we’ve put together this list of tips to help educate and empower you to do outreach to the Burning Man community.

1. Participate in Burning Man Hive

Burning Man Hive is a space for individuals inspired by Burning Man culture to learn, share, and connect. Within Hive, Burners can follow courses, connect around shared interests and projects, message one another, and cultivate collaborative friendships. Once you sign up using your Burner Profile (it’s free!), you’ll have access to a dedicated and interested set of individuals to engage with. You can learn from one another, share skills, and support each other’s projects out in the world. 

2. Connect With Your Local Regional Contact & Community

Ask if your Regional Contact can add your project to their announcement email list (or other communication platform). Regional Contacts help local Burners connect with each other, while bringing Burning Man Principles and culture into their local communities through events and activities, year-round. Meanwhile, make time to connect with active and engaged Burners in your city or region — maybe some will even offer their time and talents to help out. Find and get in touch with your local Regional Contact here.

The Regional network connects you to the global Burning Man community year-round

3. Join and Get the Word Out on Relevant Facebook Groups

Join appropriate Facebook groups, engage with others there, and share your event/content. Believe it or not, you are likely to  have more interest and organic reach for your content in appropriate Facebook groups posting as yourself, than on Burning Man Project’s main channels (thanks, algorithm). The more engaged you are in these groups, the more people will engage with you! Here are a few popular groups for your consideration, but you should definitely do a search on your own for groups that are relevant to the event or project you’re creating. In particular, target your local Regional groups.

There are a ton of different Facebook groups — find the one that’s right for you!

4. Keep People Engaged by Creating and Posting in Facebook Events

Creating Facebook Events is a great way to keep your event top of mind. If you’re creating a Facebook Event to share with your community, don’t just set it and forget it. Post relevant updates and entertaining details within the event — these will appear in the feeds of anyone who selected they’re “going” or “interested.” 

5. Submit Your Fundraiser to the ‘Support a Project’ Page

If you’re fundraising for your Burning Man art project that meets our criteria, we can list the project on the  Support a Project page, which we promote to the Burning Man community. Please note that this should not be your only solution for fundraising, but it’s a good place to start.

  • Speaking of, keep in mind we do have an Honoraria Art Grant program for the purpose of partially funding artworks for installation on the open playa at the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City. While applications may be closed for this coming year, you can start getting geared up for next!

6. Pitch or Write a Story for the Burning Man Journal

Feeling extra passionate? Have a story to tell? Pitch (or better yet, write) an article for potential publication right here in the Burning Man Journal. If it’s not directly related to Burning Man, but aligns with the 10 Principles and our culture, we might consider your piece for inclusion on Burning Man Project’s channel on Medium, Beyond Burning Man. You can submit your idea by filling in the Share a Story form.

7. List Your Project on Spark

Are you looking for help on a specific project related to Black Rock City? List it on Spark! Spark is designed to facilitate connections and collaborations within the Burning Man Community, and provides a place for groups or individuals to post a listing for skill sets and/or resources they need or have to offer. Spark provides a secure place to make connections with other participants to help foster greater collaboration in efforts related to theme camps, art projects, mutant vehicles and other Burning Man related projects.

Spark facilitates collaboration between Burners for BRC-related projects

8. Cultivate Your Community Year-round

If you are creating projects and events on a regular basis, it’s worth it to actively cultivate your audience and community year-round. Keep your presence on social media groups relevant and active by sparking conversations and bringing in members of the community who have ideas and want to contribute their time and resources. Build up your email list so you can reach out with relevant updates. Show appreciation for those who volunteer, and stay in touch throughout the year. Cultivate relationships with aligned global and local communities/projects that can support your project and wider community — keeping that momentum year round will make it immeasurably easier to activate, engage, and attract contributors and participants when you’re ready to get the word out about something new. 

Some Self-promotion Tips and Tricks!

Burner with something to say, 2017 (Photo by Jared Mechaber | (Graphic design by Deets Shay)
  1. Create a graphic! There are plenty of apps and programs these days that offer design templates, so you don’t need to be a professional designer to create something worth sharing. Search for “graphic design” in your mobile app store. There are apps for making logos, posters, social graphics, etc. — and some of them are free to use. For example, I created The Bullhorn and Tips & Tricks graphics seen above in an app, on a mobile device. No expensive laptop, no complicated design programs. 
  2. Make a plan! Develop a timeline for getting the word out about your event or project, and figure out who your audience should be. Plan on announcing a few weeks in advance, then re-announcing a week before it kicks off or happens. Then send a reminder 24 hours before it starts.
  3. Stay focused! Post your content to appropriate platforms and groups — cross-posting everywhere and anywhere could backfire, as admins (and other users) will see what you’re up to and call you out, and some will even delete your posts. Be sure to read and follow the rules of each group, and make sure you’re speaking to the right audiences. We recommend picking just one or two social platforms so you can dedicate time to engaging on them.
  4. Engage with your community! The more connections you make, the more help and interest you’ll receive, in person and online. When people comment on your posts, respond to them. Don’t just talk at people and hope they’ll get on board — enroll them in your content or project. 

Huzzah, you did it!

You’ve made it to the end of this unexpected lesson in self promotion. It may not have been the hit of dopamine you were expecting, but hopefully you took something useful away from it. So get out there and start sharing all those amazing things you make — I can’t wait to see them on the interwebs.

‘Tell Me Yours, I’ll Tell You Mine’ by Emma Shield, 2017 (Photo by Manual Pinto)

About the author: Deets Shay

Deets Shay

Deets Shay is on Burning Man Project’s Communications team, overseeing social media content strategy and execution, in addition to leading print production projects. She attended her first Burn in 2012, when she quickly realized she identified with the culture, and has been going back almost every year since. Prior to joining Burning Man Project’s year-round staff, Deets volunteered for the Department of Mutant Vehicles, where she helped process Mutant Vehicle applications before the Burn, and approved vehicle licensing on playa. You can generally find her hanging out with her amazing wife Ginger Snap, their Corgi, Mini Waffles, and Shiba Inu, Jinkx.

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